There’s no shortage right now of products that add television services to your desktop or laptop machine, and Hauppauge’s latest salvo into this market is one that’s designed to work happily with either.
The WinTV Nova-TD is a USB device about the size of two USB flash drives (meaning it sometimes overhangs an extra USB port), that promises a world of digital television on your PC. It’s an absolute breeze to get going, courtesy of a smashing, highly-explanatory instruction sheet that guides you with ease through the steps you need to take, and within minutes of attaching the device to both of our test machines – a notebook and a desktop – we were set up and ready to go.
But then the problems set in. One of the big selling points of the device is its dual-antenna approach to reception, with two small aerials included in the box (which also gives the potential for accessing two signals at once). We duly connected them both to the Nova-TD, observing that they both had magnetic bases to help attach their otherwise flimsy selves to the sides of our PC (being cautious about stray magnetic fields, of course). And then we installed the useful-if-dated WinTV 2000 software, bundled with the product on CD, to go hunting for some channels.
The results, sadly, were not good. A first attempt on our desktop machine found three terrestrial channels only, and the reception on them wasn’t strong enough to stick with for any length of time. When connected to our laptop, the software drew a complete blank. It was only when we connected the unit directly to the main roof aerial – courtesy of the standard aerial input on the Hauppauge device – that we finally got pictures worth watching. But we couldn’t help but think that wasn’t quite the point.
The WinTV Nova-TD is blatantly a highly portable unit, and there’s going to be a fair few people looking at it who think it may be perfect for use when on their travels. But without a direct, or strong, aerial connection, the dual antenna that Hauppauge includes simply doesn’t cut the mustard. And it renders what’s otherwise a polished, highly competent product, of questionable use.
Sure, if it’s a desktop device you’re looking for and you’re within stretching distance of a good aerial, then there’s a reasonable case to go for it (although you’ll still get better economies from an internal card). It even comes with a good remote control. But if you’re looking to rely on the antenna system that Hauppauge has implemented, then our recommendation is to look elsewhere.
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